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More on Trojan Horse in the Catholic Bedroom March 1, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, awesomeness, Basics, contraception, Dallas Diocese, Domestic Church, episcopate, error, family, General Catholic, scandals, secularism, self-serving, Society.

Since I think this is such an important book, I wanted to give some additional coverage to Dr. Jay Boyd’s Natural Family Planning: Trojan Horse in the Catholic Bedroom?  First, there is a Kindle edition available here.

Secondly, Dr. Boyd posted an excerpt from her book containing the conclusion here.  I’m posting it below, with some additional comments, because I’m so very important I know you want to hear what I have to say on everything!  Before I get to that, though, I must point out that this book is not some cut and paste argument from other sources, a thin little book produced as a whim by a blogger. This is a serious scholarly study, running 266 pages, with copious evidence from Magisterial documents and tracing the long line of Catholic Tradition on this critical subject. It is a very serious contribution to the field of moral theology, and one that I think is both long overdue and badly needed, given the countervaling representations of NFP being made in the public.  The conclusion:

Marriage is intended to be fruitful; God said so Himself! God’s plan for the sanctification of the married couple includes their cooperation with God in procreating new souls destined for Heaven. NFP doesn’t explicitly fly in the face of such an understanding, but it is dramatically not submissive to God. NFP is all about a degree of control that is objectionable in any traditional Catholic understanding of marriage or Catholic spirituality in general.
NFP promoters attempt to elevate non-abstinence (that is, the circumvention of the need to abstain from the marital embrace) to the level of a virtue, achieved by gaining knowledge of God’s designs so as to frustrate them. In other words, NFP promoters see the marital act as having “unitive” value that trumps its procreative value; therefore, engaging in marital intimacy when there is no risk of pregnancy is considered good in and of itself. [So true. One of the major errors regarding marriage that has become widespread over the past few decades is that the primary end of the marital act is it’s unitive aspect, the bringing the couple closer together. This is a false claim that flies in the face of numerous Magisterial statements, even though Humanae Vitae is not nearly so clear or strong on this subject as it should be.  But Casti Connubi, Pius XII’s allocution to the Italian midwives, and numerous Magisterial statements dating back to the earliest Church fathers all condemn actions on the part of couples to frustrate the natural end of the marriage act – procreation. There can be very grave reasons for permitting that frustration for limited periods of time, but it should never be done “de rigeur” or as a way to merely make the arrival of children more convenient – if they are permitted to arrive at all.]
But sex is not an end in itself. To long for sexual pleasure but seek to avoid its consequences is, objectively, concupiscence seeking a remedy. Certainly we would say this of an unmarried couple (it’s called “fornication”). The traditional understanding of marriage is threefold: 1) the procreation and education of children; 2) mutual care and support for the married couple in their journey to Heaven; and 3) a remedy for concupiscence. And once upon a time, people actually got married first and then realized those ends. Nowadays, people seek the “remedy for concupiscence” (i.e., sex) first, and only afterwards mightconsider the other two ends. In the past, some couples probably got married primarily as a remedy for concupiscence, knowing that indulging their sexual appetites might lead to pregnancy; today we have a Pill to take care of the anxiety about the possibility of pregnancy, and many consider that license to satisfy their sexual appetites outside of marriage.
……It seems silly to claim that one is “open to children” when one is organizing one’s life around having sex not likely to be fruitful! The NFP “way of life,” when not practiced to achieve pregnancy, is all about sterile sex – sex that is meant only to make the couple feel good, with no consequences attached to that pleasure. The “background music” of the NFP way of life is always about sexual intimacy: “when we can, when we should, when we can’t, and when we shouldn’t”……….
….Couples marry today with certain expectations about both marriage and sex shaped by public media. Sex is supposed to be “good” with a “good partner” and “personally satisfying”; in other words, sex is “all about the couple” – a variation on the theme of “it’s all about me”.

People enter marriage today with a culturally-conditioned expectation that “sex is like what I’ve seen in the movies” – which is to say it looks really great, and fun, and exciting! The NFP ideology (and that is what it is) does little to teach the true meaning of marriage, sex, or chastity, but is an unwitting participant in the unchaste sexuality that is rampant in our culture. To teach engaged couples about “family planning” of any kind is conceding that “family planning” (a.k.a., birth control) is a presumed need and value in today’s Catholic marriages. [Which is very true – much of the argument supporting NFP starts with worldly preconceptions (e.g., sex is a good in itself, sex is a primal urge that cannot be resisted, “everyone is doing it,” etc) and attempts to apply them to the Faith, trying to “Christianize” what is often libertine sexuality – like the popular presentations on so-called theology of the body, which often do exactly the same thing.  The problem is, many of these worldly assumptions are partly or totally antithetical to the Faith, and so their integration will be at best problematic, and at worst destructive and doomed to failure]
Certainly, today, the Church is failing badly in this area. Part of the reason for that stems from the 1960’s Church taking seriously the warnings from secular “experts” that the world was becoming overpopulated. Birth control was cautiously embraced because Church leaders didn’t recognize the errors in the overpopulation argument. The apparent needs of the temporal world loomed larger than the spiritual needs of parents that are met through generous parenthood providentially orchestrated by God. It seems as though, for a brief moment, Church leaders wondered if God maybe needed a little help in controlling population: hence, the concept of “responsible” parenthood, and the subtle movement from condoning periodic abstinence in certain serious situations to the idea that couples should rely on their own consciences to determine when to conceive a child……..
————————End Quote———————-
Well, that last bit, it’s critical and numerous volumes have been, and will be, written on that subject alone. For it goes far beyond the Church’s approach to the marital act and concerns over the totally false overpopulation scare, and touches on all the novelties that were introduced at Vatican II.  That last line there, pulls in the aspect of the “spirit of Vatican II” that traditional/conservative type Catholics find probably the most problematic idea of all, the idea that individual conscience, no matter how malformed, no matter how distant from Catholic belief and practice, is always inviolate, is always supreme, and can never be made – or even asked! –  to submit to the Authority of the Church. From that radical, rationalist, enlightenment idea, flows all the rivers of progressive thought on sexuality, contraception, marriage, and many other things besides.  In fact, the “promise” of being able to contracept and/or abort with abandon and “in good conscience” was one of the major selling points the progressives used to gain acceptance from a skeptical laity for their whole program, and they knew that using sex as an enticement was key – Muggeridge covers this extensively in her book.  The progressives/radicals intentionally “sold” a libertine, worldly vision of sexuality to the laity, and it worked like a charm in bringing people to accept many other radical changes they had been formed and raised to reject.
This post is too long, already, so maybe I’ll write my own book one day on how all this came down, how Catholics who overwhelmingly accepted Church Doctine on marriage in contraception in 1960 came to overwhelming reject it by 1970 – including Humanae Vitae, which is problematic in its own right.  But this is enough for now.  Dr. Boyd’s book looks very interesting, I’ll have to check it out.


1. Jay Boyd - March 1, 2013

Hmmm. I see I’m going to have to pay you overtime now! Thanks for your kind words!

2. Jonathan - March 1, 2013

I really appreciate these posts because I am coming round to the idea of NFP being a dangerous compromise between artificial contraception and trusting fully in God (by God’s grace my wife and I have never been faced with the decision to use NFP or not–two boys in three years of marriage). I do, however think that it’s still important to make a distinction between even wrongful use of NFP and use of contraception. While they are both examples of “concupiscence seeking a remedy”, NFP is still not intrinsically evil while contraception is. The individual sex act of a couple wrongfully using NFP is not sinful like that of a couple using contraception; what is sinful is their lack of faith in God, which all of us probably suffer from in one area or another, be it finances, the use of our time, our prayer life or whatever.

I understand from the teaching of the Church that use of periodic continence to avoid pregnancy is only acceptable in grave circumstances. But what about the use of total continence? Obviously it has its perils–falling into lust, etc.–but is it *otherwise* a licit method of spacing children when a couple has unquantifiable reasons (such as the emotional health of a spouse with a history of depression)?

Thanks again–this blog has been a source of much light for me on my journey towards traditional Catholicism.

tantamergo - March 1, 2013

In general, I agree. NFP is better than contraception, it’s more open to life. But it’s being abused a great deal. That’s the main point.

Jonathan - March 1, 2013

Granted, NFP is abused. But it’s not better than contraception because it’s more open to life, but rather because contraception is evil in itself and NFP isn’t. (You can use NFP in such a restrictive way that renders it even less open to life than contraception.) NFP is immoral insofar as it demonstrates a subjective lack of faith, which I think is potentially analogous to the person who lacks faith in giving a truly sacrificial amount of alms.

Would total continence to avoid pregnancy (without the grave reasons required for NFP) be morally okay, though?

tantamergo - March 1, 2013

By more open to life, I meant that in a general sense, it was a 15 word reply. Sheesh. That also includes the life of Grace, trying to be faithful, not so openly rejecting what the Church believes, etc.

But I will maintain that NFP is still being widely promoted and, I fear, abused, in a manner that is analagous to contraception, as a device for couples to enjoy the marital embrace while keeping the arrival of children on their terms. But in and of itself, NFP is not an intrinsic evil as contraception is, because it can be used in a manner that is moral.

Jonathan - March 1, 2013

Sorry about the nitpicking. Do you have any idea about what the Church teaches about using total continence to keep the arrival of children on one’s own terms?

Jonathan - March 1, 2013

I don’t see how total continence would be subject to the same charge of “concupiscence seeking a remedy” that Dr Boyd (rightfully) levels at illicit use of NFP.

3. cori - March 5, 2013

I so appreciate you doing this. It has made a big difference in my being able to open this conversation up with some of my friends who swear by NFP to end the growth of the size of their families.

tantamergo - March 5, 2013

No problem! Get Jay’s book! She’s an awesome lady!

4. faithinourfamilies - March 5, 2013

Since we started using NFP we feel we have both learned more about the true meaning of sex, marriage, chastity, and generosity than we ever have. It is truly the key to a deeply loving and fully satisfying relationship. I hope more people have the courage to learn more about NFP.

tantamergo - March 5, 2013

I thank you for your comment, and you give a nice testimony. I’m very sorry for the difficulties your family is having right now in the grave circumstances that require your use of NFP. I pray there comes a time when your circumstances will permit you to be fully open to new life at any time without periodic abstinence.

5. A cry of anguish over the Novus Ordo | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - March 5, 2013

[…] been blogging a bit of late about Dr. Jay Boyd and her new book Natural Family Planning: Trojan Horse in the Catholic Bedroom.  There is a side story there I hope to get to tomorrow, but for today I wanted to point out […]

6. Steve Kellmeyer - March 5, 2013

I once heard Kimberly Hahn, wife of Scott Hahn, insist that if you use NFP, you CANNOT sin.

I was standing with a bunch of other people in the foyer to the auditorium when it came over the loudspeakers. Every one of us in the group just groaned. God bless the Hahns, but they have spread this stupid idea rather widely. Glad to see someone is countering it.

In an aside, JP II’s Wednesday audiences on human sexuality have NOT helped erase this misinformation. For reasons known only to himself, his audiences on human sexuality deliberately omitted nearly all references to children. Thus, it is the only set of Catholic teachings on human sexuality that functionally divorce the unitive, procreative and concupiscible aspects of the act from one another.

I don’t see how that is helpful.

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